Avoid Liver Stiffness by Drinking Coffee

You can help out your liver by drinking coffee, even if you drink too much alcohol or have a really bad diet. That is what a study published in the Journal of Hepatology (liver) says. Coffee and herbal tea consumption is associated with lower liver stiffness in the general population.

Coffee and tea have been proposed to limit the progression of liver fibrosis in established liver disease, but it is unknown if this is also true for subclinical fibrosis. We therefore aimed to evaluate whether coffee and tea consumption are associated with liver stiffness in the general population.

Here is the summary of their results in plain words.

Lay summary

The Rotterdam Study is a large ongoing population study of suburban inhabitants of Rotterdam in whom data on liver stiffness, as proxy for liver fibrosis, presence of fatty liver on ultrasound and detailed information on coffee and tea consumption were obtained in 2,424 participants. The consumption of herbal tea and daily consumption of three or more cups of coffee was related to the presence of lower liver stiffness, independent of a great number of other lifestyle and environmental factors. Previous studies have found a protective effect of coffee on established liver disease and we now show for the first time that this effect is already measurable in the general population.

Researchers previously knew that people with a predisposition for liver disease were helped by drinking coffee but now it turns out that the protective effect of coffee is seen in all persons. We recently wrote that the incidence of liver cancer is lower in coffee drinkers.

[R]esearchers report that drinking a cup of coffee a day was associated with a twenty percent reduction in hepatocellular carcinoma, two cups a day with a 35 percent reduction and five cups a day with a reduction of 50 percent. Even decaf drinkers had a fourteen percent risk reduction.

Is organic coffee a better choice in this regard or is it just as good to drink regular coffee? Both studies, for liver stiffness and for cancer, only looked at coffee consumption and not specifically for organic coffee drinkers. However, increased health benefits come from drinking organic coffee because organic coffee drinkers avoid the up to 150 contaminants that can be found in regular coffee. This is because organic coffee certification requires that coffee is grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides or fungicides and without the use synthetic fertilizers. Shade grown organic coffee especially is commonly grown in a totally natural environment without artificial additives to pollute your cup of coffee.

The antioxidants in coffee carry most of the benefits of drinking coffee but why challenge the good that antioxidants do by adding impurities that in and of themselves may cause disease? Our suggestion is to stick with organic coffee and get the many health benefits of coffee without the unwelcome additives that too often enter the commercial coffee food chain.


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